In talking about this years Royal Rumble there is one thing that I couldn't forget to talk about and that is the continuation of Otis and Many Rose's story line. For the last few months Otis has been lusting after Mandy Rose on Smackdown and in some cases this love story has been better then Lana/Rusev/Lashley triangle. In my opinion, the main reason the Smackdown attempt is better then Raw is because it's a bit more believable and plays on more emotions as a lot of guys have chased after girl who is a bit out of there league. At this point I think that the company is going to stretch things out as they should, but it is unclear which direction they will go and how much it would effect other parties. Check out the video below of how Otis saved Mandy from elimination during the match.
One underrated performance from the Women's Rumble match was from Bianca Belair who lasted over thirty minutes and was the iron woman of the match lasting the longest out of anyone. Bianca recently won a battle royal for the right to challenge Rhea Ripley at NXT Takeover: Portland in February. In a lot of ways Bianca has been flying under the radar due to talent like Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, and others taking most of the spotlight. Bianca got on a lot of people's radar last year after her standout performance against Baszler during Royal Rumble weekend. Not only was this her Royal Rumble debut where she lasted over a half hour she also eliminated eight participants from the match which put her in a tie with Shayna Baszler for most eliminations in the Royal Rumble. It is insane to see how much her stock has risen in the last twelve months and she has earned every bit of it working her but off to get to where she is. In the future not only will Shayna Bazler move to the main roster, but with this performance Bianca Belair showed a move to Raw or Smackdown will be in her future.
Sunday night was the Royal Rumble match and it was full of those moments that always make the Rumble feel special and unique. One moment that we were unsure about was what exactly happened to AJ Styles during the Royal Rumble match as it seemed like he got injured off camera during Baron Corbin's entrance. As of this writing it seems like AJ may have separated his shoulder during the match and according to Ryan Satin at Pro-Wrestling Sheet the severity of the injury is unclear at this time.
Speaking of injuries Beth Phoenix left it all in the ring last night after accidentally hitting the back of her head on the ring post and cutting her head wide open. In a freak accident basically Beth reacted to a punch and in reacting she smacked the back of her head on the ring post almost immediately the blood started flowing. There isn't a lot to say about the accident last night other than the fascination of seeing Beth Phoenix and her bloody Ric Flair style hair kicking some ass for over 20 minutes during the ladies Royal Rumble. One note I would make is that one person I spoke to said that after seeing her performance one fan said WWE should've called an audible and let Beth Phoenix get the Rumble win on Sunday night.
Now with the Road to Wrestlemania officially underway the only question there really is to ask at this point is if WWE could build some momentum and capitalize on the reputation of Wrestlemania. Recently, WWE has had struggles with ratings, but after the creative change which saw Paul Heyman and Bruce Prichard named as creative directors of Raw and Smackdown respectively. The one thing that fans need to understand is that it will take time to repair both brands, and if WWE play there cards right they could set a direction now when the most people are willing to give them a chance and take there best shot at keeping fans around after Wrestlemania.
Royal Rumble Card
Men's Royal Rumble
Women's Royal Rumble
(c) “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan (Universal Championship strap match)
(c) Bayley vs. Lacey Evans (SmackDown Women's Championship)
Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin (Falls Count Anywhere)
(c) Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (Raw Women's Championship)
Sheamus vs. Shorty G
(c) Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo (U.S. Championship)
Shorty G vs Sheamus
At this point there is no official matches announced for the Pre-Show so I just picked one of the matches that have been announced already to move to the pre-show. In my opinion, this match would benefit being on the pre-show this way they can maximize the time for the match.
Falls Count Anywhere:
King Corbin vs Roman Reigns
This feud has been going on since both Roman and Corbin were drafted to Smackdown in October and even though some fans haven't enjoyed the feud it has been something fresh. I do believe that this will be the blow-off of the feud to allow Roman to begin setting his focus on a big Wrestlemania match for the upcoming event. With that being said Roman Reigns will get the victory.
Raw Women's Championship:
(c) Becky Lynch vs Asuka
For once WWE has been booking Asuka quite well during her feud with Becky Lynch to the point that Asuka is a believable challenger for the long reigning Women's Champion. At this point Becky has held the Women's Championship for the last 293 days and it might be time for something different even if it's for a short period of time. Asuka gets the win and will hold two women's championship.
WWE United States Championship:
(c) Andrade w/ Zelina Vega vs Humberto Carrillo
One of the best parts of Paul Heyman's Raw is that he has been giving the spotlight to fresh faces and some have broken through while others have been struggling to find their footing. It doesn't matter though, because the only way Paul will give up on Humberto is if he told to move on and find someone else. There is no doubting though that Andrade has finally found himself and has a ton of potential to keep growing as a star and move to the main event in 2020. Keeping that in mind I do think it'd be a little soon to make the title switch so I see Carrillo being screwed and Andrade keeping the gold tonight and continuing the feud past Royal Rumble.
Smackdown Women's Championship:
(c) Bayley vs Lacey Evans
This is the push that they should've done from the start with Lacey Evans as she has depth to her character and her earned her place in the division. Bayley has become more like any other member of the roster and less like the best as the company leaned to much on her heel turn and the shock that came with and didn't add enough to it early on like they should have. I do think that Bayley will get one over on Lacey and keep her title tonight.
WWE Universal Championship:
(c) "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs Daniel Bryan
Bryan and Bray Wyatt have always been the perfect match for each other having great chemistry in the ring together. Outside of the one misstep after the Hell in a Cell things have never been better for Bray Wyatt in his WWE career. It is clear though at this point that Bray will hold onto his World Title for the foreseeable future as it's time for WWE to keep holding onto a hot hand. Daniel has his moment and still needs to find his ground footing as a good guy again.
WWE Women's Royal Rumble:
One of my favorite parts of the year is the Royal Rumble and it is always interesting to see how WWE will fill up this years Royal Rumble. After how the Survivor Series match went this past year with the NXT Women winning the match it is possible that they give the win to a women as a way to call up a new star. I would like to see Sonya Deville or Mandy Rose get a chance to shine in the Rumble and maybe Toni Storm or Dakota Kai get that same opportunity. Shayna Baszler would be my ideal choice as an NXT performer that could win the Royal Rumble after dropping her women's championship to Rhea Ripley. I could see Ronda Rousey returning to win the Royal Rumble or Charlotte getting the win to add another layer to her ever present hall of fame worthy career.
WWE Men's Royal Rumble:
Not going to lie having Brock Lesnar start this year's match at entry one adds a very interesting dynamic to the match. Hopefully they will have it set up that whoever eliminates Brock Lesnar will then gain a title opportunity or at least a match with the WWE Champion. With only 26 entrants announced for the match it is pretty clear that there will be four surprises in the match tonight. After seeing Keith Lee win the North American title I don't think he will be one of them as he still has some time left in NXT, but Edge could be one of them. I think that Buddy Murphy and Ricochet will be given the chance to have a stand out performance in the match based on their rising stocks on Raw. It is always tough to select the winner of the Royal Rumble and that is fun part as it is the only unpredictable point of the WWE's year. The final four will be Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Big E in my opinion. Kevin Owens will win the Royal Rumble based on the idea of them trying to elevate him as a top face on Raw and in WWE.
As a viewer of wrestling you want to know that what your watching means something other wise you may feel like your wasting your time. This lends to my favorite go to of long term booking, because having a long term plan makes it easier to make sure matches on programming has meaning. It is important that gimmick matches have meaning, because some matches like a battle royal can be use to plan for the future. In my opinion, a battle royal can be a great tool to plan for the future and add a little more depth to rivalries.
Since Takeover War Games back in November a slowly developing rivalry between former partners Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox has fans talking. The amount of aggression we have seen from Dakota since her heel turn has been adding layer after layer to her character development. Turning heel by injuring Tegan and attacking her bad knee as she knows as good as anyone Tegan's injury history. Starting the feud that way also kicks off the characteristics for each combatant with Tegan taken on a sympathetic role and Dakota taking on the aggressive role respectively. With Tegan Nox being taken out of the match after Dakota Kai pulled her off the top rope.
One of the main differences between NXT and WWE is they have always done better with keeping talent busy then they did on the main roster. Now with Shayna Baszler out of the title picture for the time being she needs something to keep her on television and after this battle royal she has unfinished business with Shotzi Blackhart and after the new comer surprised the former champion with an elimination. It is also possible that Shotzi starts with Deonna Purrazzo after Purrazzo attacked Blackhart during the match leaving some tension on the table. In the forthcoming weeks it is possible that we can see a resolution of unfinished business as WWE starts setting the stage for Takeover: Tampa the night before Wrestlemania.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present